Most of us grew up in an era where anger was believed to be a ‘negative’ emotion. Feelings of anger arose out of frustration, and we were taught, that well behaved children ‘don’t get angry’. Today, parenting styles have changed. Anger, as an emotion is a very real force in your child’s life and as such, you need to acknowledge it. Asking your child why he or she broke something is not going to work. You know the answer already. They broke it because they were angry. Learn to focus on helping your kids find a way to channel their anger in a healthy manner. Here are some tricks and tips that you can use to ensure your child’s emotions do not get away with him too often!
Aggression vs Anger
An early lesson you have to teach your kid is that anger is a healthy emotion; one that they should not be ashamed of. However, aggression is not okay. For example, your daughter must know that feeling angry because her older sister won’t let her play with the dollhouse is fine. Expressing that anger by breaking said dollhouse? Not okay. Instead, teach her non aggressive methods to get her point across. Remind her that talking politely can be a very effective way of solving problems; much more effective for example, than kicking someone or something which does not solve anything. Talk your children through their anger and explain clearly and firmly the right way and the wrong way to express their emotions.
Praise your child
Anger stems from frustration. And let’s face it; life is frustrating, so there’s really no way you can stop your kid from being affected by it. But it stands to reason that children coming from homes where they feel loved will be less effected by ‘external frustrations’ they encounter at school, in the playground etc. Often, a child who feels loved will not get angry at every little thing, knowing that they have a family unit that supports and appreciates them for who they are. Little disappointments like not winning the spelling bee or that race at school, will tend to irritate them to a lesser degree.
When your child gets angry, give them their space. Do not indulge the anger, but allow them to blow off steam by going up to their room, going to the park with an elder sibling, walking, muttering- basically whatever it takes, as long as they’re not engaging in overtly aggressive behaviour, is fine. Sometimes, if it really is not their fault, try to diffuse the situation by using humour. Remember don’t laugh at them, but try and make the situation itself seem funny. Allowing them to see the lighter side of things can be a great diffuser of tense situations. ‘She called you a smelly sock? Well then, she must not be very smart at all’ would work. Saying ‘Why would you get upset at someone calling you a sock? You are so stupid’ would not.
Reap the rewards
Just like it’s okay for you to tell yourself you deserve the extra calories after a week of going to the gym, it’s also okay for you to reward your kids for good behaviour. This will allow them to understand that reacting ‘nicely’ leads to better results than reacting to a situation in a petulant manner. Get your child his or her favourite candy etc. after he or she has displayed good control over his anger. This will reinforce the lesson that the way you react can often lead to what was an unpleasant situation turning into a pleasant one.
Most of all, remember to allow your children some leeway. Temper tantrums are part of life and as much as it pains you, you have to give your child some room to grow. Chances are he/she will break a rule at least three times, before figuring out which rules you are serious about and which they can work their way around. Good parenting is synonymous with flexible parenting. As a parent, you know your child best, and it’s up to you to decide when a situation deserves punishment or a mere cursory slap on the wrist. Either way don’t be too harsh for too long. Often kids will develop a ‘they always react like that’ mentality and go for it anyway.
Let’s face it, parenting is a slippery slope, and there are no real do’s and don’ts. A good rule of thumb most parents follow but never admit to using is to just wing it most of the time, while remembering to add lots of love, attention and laughter to your child’s life in the process.